Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

What is the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa?

The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa route is for non-EU/EEA graduates who wish to extend their stay after graduation to establish a business in the UK.  Applicants under the scheme must be endorsed by a Higher Education Institution as having developed genuine and credible business ideas and the entrepreneurial skills to establish a business in the UK.   

Queen’s University has been allocated a maximum of 20 endorsements per year. Successful applicants will be granted 12 months leave initially which may be extended by a further 12 months if the University provides a second endorsement based on successful progress. During each 12 month period graduates will be monitored and will receive mentoring and entrepreneurial support in developing a business. 

Who can apply?

Graduates can apply for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa if they are currently in the UK under one of the following categories:

  • Tier 4 Migrant;
  • Student;
  • Student nurse;
  • Student re-sitting an examination;
  • Student writing up a thesis;
  • Postgraduate doctor or dentist; or
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrant.

You cannot apply if you have previously been granted leave under the following work schemes;

  • Tier 1 (Post Study Work)
  • Fresh Talent
  • Working in Scotland Scheme
  • Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme

Applicants must have successfully completed a bachelor's or postgraduate degree at Queen’s University and applications can be made from within the UK or from the applicant's home country.  Dependants may join the applicant in the UK, provided the Tier 1 maintenance requirements are met.

When can I apply?

Gaining the University's endorsement is a competitive process as we can only endorse 20 students per year.  Applications for endorsement must be submitted at least 3 months before your current leave expires.   If successful, the University can only endorse your visa application after you have successfully completed a bachelor's or postgraduate degree.  

How do I apply?

Application Procedure

  1. Before applying please read the policy guidance on the Home Office website found here and ensure you meet the conditions.   
  2. Complete the internal application form and submit to International Student Support or send to immigration@qub.ac.uk.
  3. The University panel will assess your application form and if successful you will be invited to attend an interview with the panel to discuss your business idea.
  4. Following a successful interview, there will be an initial assessment of the Home Office application form to ensure that the acceptance criteria of the scheme have been met.
  5. If you are applying from within the UK, bring your completed application form and necessary documents to International Student Support.  We will submit the completed Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) application form, with all required documents, including the letter of endorsement from the University, to UK Visas and Immigration. 
  6. If you are applying outside the UK you will have to apply online for your Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa.
  7. Once your application has been submitted, if you are in the UK, you may or may not be permitted to begin work on your business idea depending on your previous immigration permission; If you applied for your Tier 4 leave on or after 13 December 2012, you can start your business and work on a self-employed basis before the Home Office decides your Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) application; If you applied for your Tier 4 leave before 13 December 2012,  you remain subject to your student work conditions until your Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) leave has been granted and student conditions prohibit self-employment. This is because the Tier 4 work conditions were changed on 13 December 2012.

UK Visas and Immigration application

For your application to be successful, you must score 95 points and meet all the other requirements of the Immigration Rules.


Points available

You have been endorsed by Queen’s University


You have been awarded a UK recognised bachelors or postgraduate degree by Queen’s University


Your previous grant of leave is a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and you have an endorsement for an extension application from Queen’s University.




The endorsement confirms that Queen’s University has assessed you and your business idea.


English Language: pass mark = 10
If you meet the pass-mark of 75 points for attributes (above) you will satisfy the English language requirement.


Maintenance (pass mark = 10)
If you are applying for leave to remain in the UK you must provide evidence of the following:

At least £945 of personal savings held in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before your date of application.

If you are applying for entry clearance outside of the UK you must show evidence of the following:

At least £1,890 of personal savings held in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before your date of application.


How do I extend my Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa?

If you wish to extend your Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa for a further 12 months you must apply at least one month before your current permission to stay expires. Queen’s University will only endorse a graduate for a second year if the graduate’s business idea is making satisfactory progress.

  • The requirements for extending your visa can be found here
  • Before applying please read the policy guidance on the Home Office website found here.   
  • You can only be granted leave of 2 years in total as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrant. After 2 years you may be eligible to apply under the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category or Tier 2 category if all requirements can be met.

What are the conditions under the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa?

  • Graduates must spend the majority of their working time on developing their business venture;
  • Graduates will be monitored throughout the year and must maintain regular contact with their University mentor;
  • No recourse to public funds (which means graduates will not be able to claim most benefits paid by the state);
  • Registration with the police, if this is required by paragraph 326 of the Immigration Rules;
  • No employment as a Doctor or Dentist in training; and
  • No employment as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach);
  • Graduates will be permitted to apply for a second 12 month visa if the University is happy to provide further endorsement based on successful progress.

You cannot apply for settlement in the UK under the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category and time spent under this category does not count towards settlement in the UK.

 How will I be monitored?

If successful, you would be subject to a monitoring process which would involve regular meetings with an entrepreneurial mentor at the University. This is a UKVI requirement and graduates must remain in contact with their University advisor at least quarterly. Contact points could include engaging in support activities, providing written reports or mentoring and must be recorded. At each contact point graduates are responsible for completing and submitting a satisfactory progress form to International Student Support. Your progress reports could assist the University in deciding whether to provide a second endorsement.

The University will be required to report to the Home Office if:

  • the endorsed graduate fails to keep in contact with the University
  • the endorsed graduate fails to attend any review meetings
  • the University obtains any other evidence to suggest that the endorsed graduate has breached any of the conditions of their leave
  • the endorsed graduate is no longer participating in the scheme or is not spending a credible amount of time developing their business

The University reserves the right to withdraw our endorsement of your visa if any of these requirements are contravened, or circumstances arise beyond our control. 

 Please contact us should you require any clarification or assistance with the application process at immigration@qub.ac.uk